NPDES Aquaculture Permitting
What is Aquaculture?
Aquaculture is the culture, or husbandry, of marine or freshwater plants or animals. "Aquatic animals" means all life stages of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Aquaculture is undertaken in a variety of ways, including:
- fish hatcheries,
- raceways, ponds, or recirculating systems,
- floating or submersible net pens or cages, and
- bag, rack, or suspended shellfish culture.
Which Aquaculture Discharges Require an NPDES Permit?
NPDES permits are required for discharges associated with:
Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Facilities (CAAP) (40 CFR Part 122.24) -- A "hatchery, fish farm, or other facility” which is designated by EPA (40 CFR 122.25) or which satisfies the following criteria in Appendix C (40 CFR Part 122).
- Facilities raising cold water fish species or other cold water aquatic animals in ponds, raceways, or other similar structures which discharge at least 30 days per year, but does not include:
- Facilities which produce less than 9.090 harvest weight kilograms (20,000 pounds) of aquatic animals per year; and
- Facilities which feed less than 2,272 kilograms (5,000 pounds) of food during the calendar month of maximum feeding.
- Warm water fish species or other warm water aquatic animals in ponds, raceways, or other similar structures which discharge at least 30 days per year, but does not include:
- Closed ponds which discharge only during periods of excess runoff; or
- Facilities which produce less than 45,454 harvest weight kilograms (100,000 pounds) of aquatic animals per year.
Effluent guidelines have been developed for CAAP facilities producing 100,000 pounds or more of aquatic animals per year.
- Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Point Source Category (40 CFR Part 451).
Fish farms, hatcheries and other aquatic animal production facilities producing less than 100,000 pounds/year are not subject to the CAAP Effluent Guidelines, but still may require NPDES permits for discharging wastewater.
- Guide to the Permit Application Process for Offshore Aquaculture in U.S. Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including NPDES permitting – If you plan to establish an offshore aquaculture operation in the Gulf of Mexico, information on all federal permitting and authorization requirements is available on the NOAA Fisheries Gulf Aquaculture website.
- Water Sampling and Testing for Formaldehyde at Northwest Fish Hatcheries - This report, prepared by EPA Region 10 and the Washington State Department of Ecology, provides data on the concentrations of formaldehyde being discharged from hatcheries after applications of formalin, which is used by the hatcheries to control external parasites on hatchery fish and their eggs.
- National Science and Technology Committee, Subcommittee on Aquaculture – The Subcommittee on Aquaculture serves as the Federal interagency coordinating group to increase the overall effectiveness and productivity of Federal aquaculture research, regulation, technology transfer and assistance programs.
- Effluent Guidelines for Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production (CAAP)
- Compliance Guide for the Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Point Source Category – Guidance developed to support the CAAP Effluent Guideline.
- Fishing and Farming Methods Exit– Primer from the Monterey Bay Aquarium on aquaculture farming methods.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries – Information on aquaculture.